Linguistics and English Language

Language variation and change

Talk: Mary Robinson, "Variationist data as a window into the syntax of negative concord in English"

Abstract: This talk dives into the complex data set of variable negative concord (NC) across a variety of English dialects. NC can occur in a number of different syntactic configurations, such as Object NC (e.g. I didn’t do nothing), Subject NC (e.g. Nobody couldn’t catch him), and Negative Auxiliary Inversion (e.g. Couldn’t nobody catch him). I show that, for a given dialect, the set of configurations that allow NC follow an implicational hierarchy. I argue that much of this data is problematic for popular theories of NC in the literature, and  preview a new morpho-syntactic analysis of NC (joint work in progress with Gary Thoms) that strongly builds on the dialectal data. In doing so, I show that it is crucial to take cross-dialectal data into account, as it can give important insights into the morpho-syntactic patterns and relationships between phenomena that are obscured when one looks at standard English in isolation.

Contact details

Lauren Hall-Lew

Jan 22 2020 -

Language variation and change

2020-01-22: Variationist data as a window into the syntax of negative concord in English

Room S38, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ